When thinking about the opening of Encore Boston Harbor, neighbors ought to think of it as a period of time rather than a one-day rush – that due to the fact that Encore isn’t sure how long the rush could last after they open the doors June 23.
Encore President Bob DeSalvio told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Monday that they have engaged in a great deal of planning for the upcoming opening but have no way of telling just how busy they will be, and how long they will be busy, with the initial rush that is expected.
The casino released estimates last week that they expect 8 million visitors per year to the Everett site, and hundreds of thousands are expected to pour in during the initial days of opening in late June.
“This particular part of the project I stayed very close to,” said DeSalvio. “There has been a steady topic of discussion for the past five years and it was pretty much the #1 topic at all our public meetings.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Martin Walsh told the Town during his coffee hour that they will be staying on top of the traffic situation as the casino opening rolls out.
“The casino is opening soon and that is going to bring a lot of traffic,” he said. “We need to make sure we stay on top of that situation. We know there is going to be a big impact on Charlestown and we have to stay on top of it.”
DeSalvio told the Commission they have been meeting regularly for several months with law enforcement from various jurisdictions, the MBTA and MassDOT.
“They have said they would assist us as long as it takes (with paid police details),” said DeSalvio. “It may take seven days or it could take 14 days. We like to think of this opening as a period of time…There’s clearly going to be a New Kid on the Block syndrome. There will be tweaks and all our partners said they would be ready to work with us through that period…Every partner has chipped in to say they will help us to make sure the opening is smooth. It’s impossible to say when that opening period ends. We will have to make game-day calls on a lot of these situations.”
So far, the Boston Police have pledged 13 officers, Everett Police have pledged 12 officers, Medford Police have pledged eight officers and the State Police have pledged 84 Troopers. Additionally, the Transit Police will provide 13 officers, the U.S. Coast Guard has agreed to handle the waterways and the Boston Public Works Department has agreed to monitor closely the Alford Street Bridge.
As previously reported, there are several alternatives to private vehicles that Encore is unveiling as part of its traffic plan.
•Harbor Shuttles – there will be four shuttles running a route between Encore, the Financial District and the Seaport. All of the shuttles would be ADA compliant and would cost $7 one-way. A new connector from the Seaport to the Financial District for commuters would cost $5. They would operate year-round, weather dependent.
•MBTA Encore Shuttle – Shuttles would run regularly from the Malden Station and the Wellington Station to Encore Boston Harbor. As part of the opening plan, these shuttle would let out on Mystic View Road, and those using them would have to walk on the new DCR connector under the train tracks to the casino entrance. That is in an effort to keep buses and shuttles off of Lower Broadway.
•Encore Neighborhood Shuttle – This 26-passenger luxury shuttle would be free to the public and to employees and would run between Encore, the GE Site parking lot in the Village, Everett City Hall and the Chelsea Silver Line terminus (at Market Basket). It would run 24/7 on that route.
•Premium Motor Coach – these luxury buses would come to Encore from Milford (Metro West), Rockland (South Shore), and Londonderry, NH. They would run 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
DeSalvio said he was certain that there had been a great deal of thoughtful planning, and Commissioner Gayle Cameron said she was “very impressed” with the level of care and thought put into the opening plan.
“We have thought a lot about this and that this plan works smoothly,” he said. “We probably haven’t thought of everything and we’ll make adjustments after the opening, but it has been a very, very thorough planning exercise by many different partners at the table.”